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Uniform Working Hours and Structural Unemployment

  • Haoming Liu

    (Department of Economics National University of Singapore Singapore 119260)

  • Yi Wen

    (Research Department Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

  • Lijing Zhu

    (Department of Economics National University of Singapore Singapore 119260)

In this paper, we construct a simple model based on heterogeneity in workers¡¯ productivity and homogeneity in their working schedules. This simple model can generate unemployment, even if wages adjust instantaneously, firms are perfectly competitive, and firms can perfectly observe workers¡¯ productivity and effort. In our model, it is optimal for low-skilled workers to be unemployed because, on the one hand, firms do not find it optimal to hire low-skilled workers when labor hours must be synchronized across heterogeneous workers, and on the other hand, low-skilled workers do not find it attractive working for the same hours as high-skilled workers at competitive wages based on productivity. Thus our model offers an alternative explanation for why unskilled workers are a primary source of structural unemployment.

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Article provided by Society for AEF in its journal Annals of Economics and Finance.

Volume (Year): 8 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 113-136

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Handle: RePEc:cuf:journl:y:2007:v:8:i:1:p:113-136
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  1. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 235-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cho, Jang-Ok & Cooley, Thomas F., 1994. "Employment and hours over the business cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 411-432, March.
  3. Costa, Dora L, 2000. "The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 156-81, January.
  4. Yellen, Janet L, 1984. "Efficiency Wage Models of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 200-205, May.
  5. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
  6. Kydland, Finn E., 1984. "Labor-force heterogeneity and the business cycle," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 173-208, January.
  7. Costa, Dora L, 1998. "The Unequal Work Day: A Long-Term View," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 330-34, May.
  8. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
  9. Audra Bowlus & Haoming Liu & Chris Robinson, 2002. "Business Cycle Models, Aggregation, and Real Wage Cyclicality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 308-335, Part.
  10. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1996. "Changes in the Distribution of Wages and Unemployment in OECD Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 302-08, May.
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